How to write a good video script?

“It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all.”

– Will Shetterly

There is one thing in common between a Bollywood movie, a Hollywood movie, and a marketing video that is a good script. This planning document is like the blueprint for all great movie or theater projects. Scriptwriting is a fun and rewarding process but not always easy.

What is scriptwriting?

Scriptwriting is unlike any other form of writing. It is the process of writing stories. It is writing down the actions, dialogue of characters, expressions, movements in a screenplay format. Scriptwriting is the best way to express yourself effectively. Scripts are written not only for plays but also for online web series, short videos, short films, video games, television shows, and movies.

What is a video script?

You know how important a role videos play in all forms of marketing. We all enjoy certain video ads, don’t we? We will discuss some amazing video scripts later but first let’s talk about what video scripts are.

A video script is a document that outlines how a video will be made and run. Overall it communicates the narrative and helps people grasp the message of your video with ease. It has a few elements like:

1. Camera Cues
2. Dialogues
3. Directions
4. Description of Scenes and characters5. Post-production details for editing

Scripts today have become an irreplaceable part of the marketing industry be it social media marketing on Instagram reels, TikTok clips, and Rizzle series, or for full-fledged corporate movies and television ads. So, now that you know what video scripts are, let’s talk about the first few steps on how to write a good script.

5 steps to writing a good video script

We all know that your videos will only be successful if the content is good and understandable. You should always try to keep it as simple as possible. It is extremely necessary to finalise your goals, video concepts, and script before beginning the shoot.

Now before we deep dive into the process of writing, there are certain questions that still need to be answered.

Let’s tackle the most important questions:

Who is your Target Audience?

You know that creating content usually has a purpose that is to reach out to the masses. So, as a writer or a marketing professional, you will be well aware of the target audience you want to cater to.

Is the video script you are writing for kids, entrepreneurs, housewives, or anyone else? Then the dialogues, language, the look, and feel of your video will differ based on the perspective of your audience.

The better you understand your target audience, the better you can write a script suited to their needs.

What does your target audience need?

You are well aware of the issues we face as humans. Be it something as small as choosing a perfect shoe to choose a life partner, choices are an integral part of our lives and well they are not always easy to make.

A good script is empathetic to its audience. As a writer, you should put yourself in your audience’s metaphorical shoes and see what it is that they would like a solution to in your video.

Once you have identified the need, focus on the message that you want to send out. What is it that you want your characters, brand or the video to be remembered for? 

Once you identify the message then focus on what emotional or psychological impact are you going for. What emotion is it that you want them to feel? Is it happy, comedy, sad, fear, or admiration? However, here is a quick suggestion. It is always easier to keep your audience guessing. Keep your script swinging between a negative and positive emotion to keep them on the edge.

This makes the whole thing more mysterious and keeps your audience’s attention to the very end. For example, watch the video below:

If your video is for marketing purposes then always include a call to action depending on the kind of product or service your brand offers. Always remember writing is not a sprint but a marathon. Now, let’s talk about the 5 steps to good scriptwriting:

Step 1: Logline and character development

Logline is something that allows you to encapsulate your story neatly within a couple of lines. It lets you have a clear idea of what your video is going to be about. Once you are done with the logline, you should focus on developing your characters and write down their enthralling character sketches. One thing to always keep in mind is that your characters should never be flat. We all have seen character-based meme shows like BB ki vines and, where characters have some particular attributes that make them memorable to people.

Step 2: Outline

A brief synopsis of the story is referred to as an outline or beat sheet at times. If you are writing a synopsis for a short film then try to fit it in half a page and if you are writing it for a short video like reels and such then fit it within 3-4 lines. Basically the shorter the script, the shorter the synopsis. 

Often a script is a 3 Act show. The first act aims to introduce the characters and incidents that hook the audience. The second act is usually about characters and obstacles in their storylines. The third act is the climax where there is victory or defeat and then the story comes to an end. 

Over the years the duration of video stories has been reducing continually which sometimes needs all three acts to happen within either a few seconds or a few minutes making it trickier to write awesome scripts. I say it is a beautiful disaster that has proved to be a challenge for the writers.

Step 3: Treatment

No, I am not talking about a doctor’s treatment. Yeah, bad joke I know! Treatment is basically a detailed outline of your script. Here you work on your script in manuscript style. You expound on your script and experiment with dialogues and try to find the right tone for your script. This is where you develop the environment and the world in which your story exists. If you are writing a treatment for a marketing video it will basically be around 20-25 pages.

Step 4: Write the script!

Well! Look what we have got here! You are all set with your characters, structure, and inspiring treatment. Write your script always in the present tense. Remember you are writing not only for eyes but also for ears.

Step 5: Write your script again, again & again!

Congratulations!! You are done with the first draft. Ah! But your work does not end here, my friend. Keep on writing the script again and again. Add stuff, subtract stuff or even multiply but your first draft is never your final draft. Get it reviewed not only by other seasoned writers but also by any avid reader. They give mean advice, better even than the most-seasoned writers. Love your story and it will love you back.

What is a short-form video?

A video up to 2 minutes 30 seconds long or less is a short-form video. However, there is no universally agreed number. For example, Rizzle allows 15-30 sec long videos, tik-tok on other hand allows 60 sec long videos. So you see no set criteria.

Some of the short videos especially the ones made for social media or social media marketing are only 15-30 secs long. These videos need to be quick and quirky to make an impact in a shorter timeframe. According to a Facebook study, a brand name is 23% more likely to be remembered if it’s mentioned in the first 3 seconds of the video. These videos should incorporate a hook in the first 3 seconds, their message in the next 10, and end with a call-to-action or a punchline to remember.

Best short video scripts: 2021

If you haven’t used videos yet for your social media marketing campaigns then I am sorry to say you are living under a rock, my friend. Let’s talk about some short video scripts that changed the landscape of social media marketing:

1.  GoPro

The video tech company tugs at your heartstrings with this beautiful video of a fireman saving a kitten. If your heart doesn’t melt at this then it will melt at nothing. It’s a 2-minute video telling a beautiful story with powerful visuals. This is a beautiful script!

2. Netflix

Netflix expertly used a twenty-five-second video named “Call of the wild”. They use YouTube’s embed feature to make their audience decide which way they would like their video to go. Watch it yourself! A powerful script with easy execution.’

3. Spotify India

Spotify India partnered with Sara Ali Khan for this colorful Holi promotion. A simple script with some Desi Bollywood Tadka!

4. Zomato

This video is an example of a short-form script that is fun and engaging but does not have any direct product integration.

5. Modak-Taste Made India

This video does not have dialogues but has a good script with respect to camera angles and on-screen text.

Hope you get an idea of how scripts help and how to write a good script! They always do not have dialogues, especially the short-form  video formats. So, keep writing. Also, try short-video apps like Rizzle to see what features you can incorporate in your scripts and what camera angles would  suit best based on the effects you choose to use.

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